Congressman Brad Sherman stated “an extremist Muslim who teamed up with local jihadists” was the alleged culprit of the bomb threat.
“I commend and support the decision of Superintendent Ramon Córtines and the Los Angeles Unified School District to close campuses because a ‘credible’ threat. The safety of our children, teachers and personnel is of critical importance,” said Assembly member Mike A. Gipson in a press release.
The email mentioned explosive devices, assault rifles and pistols and was traced to an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany, according to law enforcement sources.
All campuses closed Tuesday morning after officials stated it was a “credible threat” of violence involving backpacks and packages left at campuses. The nation’s second-largest school district, LAUSD has more than 700,000 students.
Authorities said they plan to search more than 900 schools in all of LAUSD, including charter schools and special education centers. Due to the closure, district wide athletic events were also cancelled until further notice.
“I can speak as a parent. My son attends a LAUSD school and since the administration judged that there was a possibility that he and others could have been harmed, I wanted him to be safe at home. Like many parents, I rushed to pick him up from school this morning,” said Gipson.
Students who arrived to school were supervised until parents could make arrangements to pick them up, officials said.
The massive closure comes after the Los Angeles region experienced two shooters kill 14 people in San Bernardino two weeks ago in a deadly terrorist attack. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. grounds since Sept. 11, 2011.
“As educators at the District’s almost 1,000 schools, our top priority is student safety. LAUSD, in conjunction with local and federal agencies, had highly trained people assess this situation, and there is an active investigation into the threats,” said Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA President.
New York authorities also faced an emailed threat made to their city schools, but they did not pose the threats as credible. The same reaction that some New York officials had an LAUSD teacher believed the same.
“I think it was a hoax, but you can’t second guest him [Roman Cortines] for shutting it down. I’m glad that the put safety concerns first, but I just they wish they would have used social media or text messages like they did before instead of an email,” said Robert Torrance, automotive technology teacher at Maxine Waters Employment Prep.
Torrance stated that he wasn’t aware of a bomb threat until he was outside the school campus. He saw no presence of school authorities or police officers.
“Apparently the early warning system didn’t do it’s job because as a teacher I didn’t find out until I was outside my school gate,” said Torrance. “No one was at the gate to tell anyone about the closures, so it seemed like the adult schools were left out of the loop.”
Torrance looked at his email to find an alert from the school district that came in at 8:06 am—16 minutes later than the time he is suppose to be at work.
“I’m not scared at all. I don’t think that terrorist will telegraph their work. I think they would operate quietly. I think they look for maximum impact,” he said. “But, the one good thing I am glad they did well was make sure the children were safe. That was the biggest concern.”
Officials said that the email only specified LA Unified schools and did not indicate any threats to other school districts in the Los Angeles area.